Coronavirus: China accuses US of ‘spreading fear’

The Chinese government has accused the US of causing “panic” in its response to the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

It follows the US decision to declare a public health emergency and deny entry to foreign nationals who had visited China in the past two weeks.

There are more than 17,000 confirmed cases of the virus in China. Some 361 people have died there.

Outside China, there are more than 150 confirmed cases of the virus – and one death, in the Philippines.

On January 23, the US ordered the departure of all non-emergency US personnel and their family members from the city of Wuhan in Hubei province, where the virus originated.

Less than a week later, the US allowed for the voluntary departure of non-emergency personnel and relatives of US government employees from China.

On January 30, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared a global health emergency over the new virus.

Following this, the US ordered the departure of all US personnel family members under the age of 21 in China.

Any US citizen who has been in Hubei province will be subject to 14 days’ quarantine upon returning to the US.

On Monday, Hong Kong said it was suspending from midnight local time (16:00 GMT) 10 out of 13 border crossings with mainland China.

Various countries have imposed varying travel restrictions and other preventative measures.

The body that represents some of the world’s largest cruise ship operators, the Cruise Lines International Association, announced on Monday that passengers and crew members who had recently travelled to China would not be allowed to board vessels.

In a news briefing on Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said the US actions “could only create and spread fear” instead of offering assistance.

She said the US was the first country to impose a travel ban on Chinese travellers and the first to suggest a partial withdrawal of its embassy staff.

-BBC

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